Prius Personal Log  #562

April 4, 2012  -  April 8, 2012

Last Updated: Weds. 4/11/2012

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4-08-2012

Slow Progress.  There was an op-ed article written for and posted exclusively on the big GM forum today.  I was intrigued.  It directly addressed the problems Volt has been struggling with.  People seemed to be receptive to the comments made too.  Perhaps seeing sales grow has changed attitude from always being on the offensive to being willing to listen first.  It had become really bad.  Volt was vastly superior, period.  Now, some see a rethink is needed.  It's progress, though painfully slow.  My contribution to that open-minded thread was:  I agree with that sentiment focus.  Setting expectations different right from the start would have resulted in a very different outcome.  The constant comparisons to Prius never made any sense, since supposedly the goal of Volt wasn't the same.  Yet, there was a never-ending theme of matching purpose.  Making Volt a premiere vehicle would have been a wise move.  Treat it like a high-desired niche vehicle rather than something intended for mainstream penetration immediately upon rollout.  Prius did not follow the traditional route for introduction of new technologies, it differed from history.  It debuted with a sticker-price of just $19,995.  That directly aimed it at middle-market rather than targeting the high-end.  Then when it was upgraded in late 2003, there were a variety of new high-end feature offered that weren't even available on Lexus vehicles.  Prius carved out it's own packaging niche instead of totally recalibrating for the mainstream... which obviously proved a successful move, based on sales and the reaction from competitors.  So what will happen with Volt now to broaden its reach? It's a whole lot easier to offer more than to scale down.  Or should becoming affordable not even be a priority for Volt?  What if the technology was expanded in low-cost form to a model of Cruze instead?  Keep Volt for enthusiasts and create a new offering for high-volume sales.

4-08-2012

More Memories.  There's a photo of what you can see on the display while the PHV is recharging.  I also captured the screens right before filling the PHV gas tank for the very first time.  I took a photo to capture status at the end of the month too.  Then with more highway driving, tank refilling a second time came sooner.  So, I documented that as well.  It difficult to actually know what's worthwhile still.  No pattern has emerged yet.  You drive a lot further with the same amount of gas from being able to augment with electricity quite often.  All that certainly makes these initial days of owning a plug-in hybrid quite memorable.  It's nice taking photos now that I'll be able to look back at years later.  See what I mean... photo album 174

4-07-2012

Old & New Memories.  I had a variety to share.  It felt great being able to stir some old memories while making new ones at the same time.  The first of which was my drive yesterday.  I was delighted to see the 28 miles of EV on the drive-ratio screen.  That's quite a return for just 2 recharges.  Next was the capture of what excited me back in October.  I was quite surprised to see the ramp at which I park for work installing 82 kWh solar-array.  Then there was the bittersweet reminder of a horribly cold sunset I spent out on a desolate country road.  It was the perfect setting for the very last photo I took of my 2010 Prius before getting the PHV.  That was only a month ago.  But it already seems like a distant memory.  Lastly, I wanted to include something extremely new, to make that particular webpage complete.  It's what you can see on the display while the PHV is recharging.  All those photos can be found here... photo album 174

4-07-2012

Public Charging.  It's intriguing what the plug-in discussions stir.  This isn't academic anymore.  It's real.  People are actually driving plug-in vehicles now.  The future has arrived.  So naturally, the perspective is somewhat different.  Real money will be spent soon.  We know what the circumstances are, but still struggle with recommendations about what could be most effective.  Today, it was this comment: "I think charge time might hurt big volume public charging."  I interjected a dose of perspective which hopefully would stir even more discussion:  Whether or not large-volume parking can adequately support public charging becomes an issue, it's not the same situation for smaller businesses... who are always looking for an advantage over the big guys.  Coffeeshops are a great example.  Restaurants are another.  Owners of small lots leasing store space seek out ways to attract business too.  Think about how some already offer parking discounts for patronage in areas with high competition.  Working recharge appeal into the infrastructure of small businesses, which are seeking out new opportunities anyway, isn't too far of a stretch.  Future patronage could include taking the plug into account. In fact, it could even alter the paradigm of location.  And what about park & ride usage?  Old school thinking just plain doesn't work anymore.  New approaches will need to be tried.  Some will catch on.  Others will flounder.  I find it very exciting to participate in the shift.

4-07-2012

Oops!  The ability to preserve EV capacity for later use has proven quite valuable.  So much so, it has become a source of irritation for Volt owners.  Why didn't they get that ability here in the United States?  It's provided with the European model.  I push the HV/EV toggle button whenever I know there's going to be a long span of highway cruising followed by suburb driving afterward.  Why would I want to consume the entire capacity on the highway?  It depletes quickly when traveling at high speeds in any plug-in vehicle.  Since PHV offers 50 MPG while cruising, it's an easy decision to switch over.  The fact that EV capacity will usually replenish some during that HV mode travel makes it a no-brainer.  However, there can be a penalty.  In my case recently, I misjudged on 4 separate occasions... ending up with EV capacity still available upon reaching my destination, where I intended to recharge.  Oops!  Oh well.  I plugged in anyway.  This is why I included a decimal-point on my spreadsheet.  I had anticipated partials.  After all, why no take advantage of the opportunity?  Even if it isn't complete, it's still an efficiency boost... which is the point.  I'm sure I'll look back at this experiences quite fondly near the year's end, when temperatures plummet.  Then, I'll be taking advantage of the engine for heat too.  True, you'll still get super-boosted MPG even with the engine running.  But again, why consume that EV capacity when you know it could better be used later during your drive?

4-06-2012

12.1 Miles.  Some rechargeable batteries perform above specifications initially.  That was indeed the case with my PHV.  It hadn't occurred to me until I started to witness that.  Then it was too late to take lots of photos.  If fact, I never did at the highest.  That was 13.1 miles.  I actually saw 13.3 miles ever so briefly once, as I exited out of the bottom exit from the ramp from having recharged at the top.  From my house, I was able to drive 14.0 miles with only EV taking the "Along The River" route, which only has a maximum speed of 55 mph... then ends with a step & curvy climb up at the 13.7 mark.  So, I may have actually been able to go a little bit further.  But all that's in the past now.  12.1 miles is what the "full" level has settled at, which is definitely above the 11-mile rating from the EPA.  That takes me all the way to the on-ramp for the highway to cross the river... which just happens to be all downhill and I never even have to leave the merge lane, since I exit immediately after crossing.  That means the engine is only lightly used then, allowing it to warm up quite efficiency.  In other words, it was an rewarding morning commute today.  I traveled 17.2 miles, which resulted in an average of 226 MPG.  That certainly exceeds the 50 MPG from my previous Prius.

4-06-2012

Hypermiling.  Those few remaining Volt troublemakers went on and on trying to discredit me.  You know, if you don't like the message, shot the messenger.  My strategy was to respond with just 2 or 3 sentences, remaining on topic.  It was an implied acknowledgement of having seen their claims, but not actually taking the bait.  One recent series of attempts was to cast me as a hypermiler.  Of course, anyone who knows me is well aware of how I promote the "Just Drive It" motto.  So, they cautiously avoided actually providing any definition of what hypermiling actually meant.  They'd just imply I was doing something extreme while driving to squeeze out much greater efficiency than an ordinary Prius driver would get.  It was shallow & desperate.  But when sales fall well below expectations, that response was easy to predict and it was pointless express any emotion.  So, I just posted goals again.  Interestingly though, the actual definition of hypermiling doesn't make sense with a PHV model Prius.  The HV/EV toggle button allows you can take advantage of the system with the greatest of ease.  Little effort is needed too, since you quickly become familiar with the results of your routine driving.  For example, when I leave work I drive about 1.5 miles through the city in EV.  Then I switch to HV, allowing the engine to casually warm up for the next mile of driving.  Doing that means no EV capacity drain, as would happen from a rapid mode switch at the moment you accelerate to merge.  In fact, the opposite happens.  You watch capacity creep up a little bit.  That replenish is a nice benefit from FULL hybrids most people didn't realize the plug-in model would see a gain from too.  But by using that button, you'll get labeled as a hypermiler... especially since the constructive Volt owners are now speaking out in disappointment from not having the same ability.  The troublemakers thrive on bragging rights.  So, you can imagine the resentment they feel about this.

4-06-2012

Done The Math.  What do you say to someone who insults with malice?  There are some who are themselves smug, but see it as though they the one being civil.  It's an odd situation without a good solution, despite how often we encounter it.  After a few comments from others about that emotional expression, I felt the need to chime in too... especially since the originating topic was one Prius owners have grown quite familiar with over the past decade... mathematical equations trying to disprove the value of the hybrid.  Of course, this time, we were insulted by not having done the math.  Supposedly, that would beyond any doubt prove Prius was not worth it.  Ugh!  Oh well, this was my discourse:  Remind yourself that many of the "break even" analysis of the past treated everyone except hybrids owners as idiots.  Hybrid owners took the time to consider the world around them.  Everyone else was believing what they read without question.  It was mind-boggling that they'd use prices like $1.69 as the projected price of a gallon of gas in 2010.  Even those those later analysis with revisions to $2.50 were so far off the mark, there was no reason to take them seriously.  Did they honestly think the United States would have cheap gas when the rest of the world was already paying so much more?  Do they still think that?  Prius makes the math easy now... and it still has nothing to do with being seen.  Years ago, Prius was the only midsize hatchback available... making it an extremely practical vehicle.  That's difficult to deny now that the other automakers offer a midsize hatchback too.  There's a balance of priorities.  Be weary of any analysis that focuses exclusively on a single trait.  Consider the big picture, other factors like emissions rating, vehicle size, purchase price are important too.  And remember, efficiency estimates generalize, which means the "your mileage may vary" reminder shouldn't be dismissed as these analysis reports often do.

4-06-2012

100,000 Sold.  This was asked about the sales record GM just set: "Where's the problem here? GM are selling more cars that are economical."  I climbed up on the soapbox:  It's the same old "do the minimum" problem we saw prior to the bankruptcy.  In fact, the auto task-force raised a "too little, too slowly" concern about the bankruptcy recovery plans.  And sure enough, that's the problem being faced now.  All that highway-only advertising paints a disappointing picture of what to expect.  They're proud of selling 100,000 cars that offer "30 mpg or Better".  But when you look up the MPG for city, you quickly realize real-world efficiency is going to be must lower than that highway value.  Look that the 2013 Malibu eAssist. No level of "percentage improvement" spin can hide the reality that it only gets 29 MPG combined.  They've lowered expectations and hoped no one would notice.  Remember how 40 MPG use to be the goal?  Now it's only 30.  Why should people settle for that, especially when you've got Toyota & Ford making that their minimum, on hybrid platforms with will support plug augmentation?  Hyundai & Honda are working hard to offer that too.  Here we go again with the GM trouble.  Read posts about Volt from supporters.  There are some who post comments that aren't the slightest bit constructive with little resistance from their colleagues.  That's a bad sign.  It's the same thing we saw years ago.

4-05-2012

That Other PHV.  Two were delivered to Minnesota.  Mine was officially the first.  That other PHV was delivered the following morning.  The owner drives quite differently too.  His trips are shorter, but more frequent.  His recharging opportunities are more abundant too.  As a result, he just filled up for the first time today.  I've already burnt through 2 tanks and am working on my third.  His statistics were much more exciting than mine too.  1,097 miles in EV.  516 miles in HV.  Whoa!  That's quite remarkable.  229 kWh of electricity and 8.75 gallons of gas to travel a total of 1,613 miles.  He even had 4 miles of EV capacity remaining at the refill.  Doing the math, the result is 192 MPG.  That's the type of potential we've all be hoping to see someone take advantage of.  With all his city driving, the benefit is quite obvious.  It really makes me wonder how others will interpret his real-world data, especially when it's in such contract to mine.  Of course, even mine is impressive.  But with such variance, it takes that "your mileage will vary" disclaimer to a whole new level.

4-05-2012

More Photos.  My commute on a pleasant Spring day, complete with a recharge at work was documented with my camera.  More photos right away is good.  It's exciting to have such a stream of real-world readily available.  Later on, I'll appreciate for my own reference too.  Winter changes everything.  This upcoming snow season will be my first with a plug.  That means making discoveries firsthand, sharing them with others having those new experiences, and reminding myself how much it will transform after that snow finally melts away.  With a Prius, that cold to warm routine each year is quite refreshing.  I've looked forward to it for over a decade.  Now, it will be even more so, based upon these very photos I just took... photo album 173

4-05-2012

Display Photos.  The PHV model provides some new information and new screens.  With the video I captured, there were photos to taken too.  It was real-world data, finally.  No more wondering or speculating, complete with detail.  That's what we've been waiting for... for a very long time.  There's lots to share now.  That feels great... especially since some of it will help keep the misconceptions from getting out of hand.  There's also the reality of those few who intentionally mislead.  It all makes the benefit & urgency clear.  It's rewarding too.  After all, my brief data-collection opportunity 1.5 years ago only represented a few days of travel with an early model.  This is the first of many, in an on-going effort to collect & document as much as I can.  It's a good way to study the design, starting with those displays you'll see while driving... photo album 172   photo album 173

4-05-2012

First Photos.  My 2012 PHV got dropped off after sunset, so the first photos were at night.  Since it included new LED lights which no one had posted any images of yet, I was happy to oblige.  It was exciting to see something intended to be unique.  After all, that's what the luxury cars have been doing for a little over a year now.  Why not a signature look from PHV as well?  There were also new lights for the back of the Prius.  It was a great opportunity share something entirely new.  I didn't hesitate either.  Being totally dark outside, it wasn't exactly the way those DRLs would be seen though... the big ones on the bottom, that is.  The fancy "Zorro" type slash on top would be seen anytime any light was turned on.  Anywho, I managed the darkness by parking near a street light.  And in the parking garage the following day, my curiosity compelled me to use the camera to see what those DRL lights looked like under moderate lighting when you could actually the car.  So, I took a photo that way too.  It was especially memorable.  You can see exactly what I saw, here on this webpage... photo album 172

 

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